You’re moving into together! It’s an exciting time.
But then reality hits.
Merging two households is a big deal.
There’s so much for you and your partner to figure out and decide. How will you combine all of your stuff? Whose couch will you keep? How will you decide who pays for what? What if your dog hates their cat?
This post will serve as a guide for tackling these questions and so much more.
Open and honest communication can be the armor to protect your relationship during the ups and downs of this new phase of your lives together. Talking about potential issues before they occur can be enormously helpful in setting expectations.
- For example, you may have different ideas of how much time you should spend together versus your needs for alone time or time with friends. This can be especially true when you’re moving in together after years of living independently, being able to do what either or you wanted, when and with who you wanted, without taking your partner’s schedule or preferences into account. Talking this through in advance can avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings.
- Something else to talk about are household chores and responsibilities. Who will do the laundry? How often should the bathrooms be cleaned? If you cook, will your partner do the dishes? Will one of you do all the bill paying or is that a responsibility which will be divided? In the beginning, setting up a chore list may be helpful to remind each partner of their agreed upon household duties.
- Speaking of bill paying, another vital area of discussion is finances. This can be a tricky area that deserves a lot of focus since many couples avoid this topic, yet it is also the number one issue that couples fight about. As such, this issue could be the subject of a post all on its own but, for the purposes of this writing, we’ll just be looking at a few of the highlights.
> Regarding bank accounts, will each of you maintain your own bank account? Will you have a joint account in addition to your individual accounts or will you only have a joint account? How will income be distributed across accounts? When one partner earns more than the other, it’s important to consider, will each of you contribute evenly to a joint account? Or will you each contribute the same percentage of your individual incomes? Maybe the total of each of your incomes will be deposited into one joint account instead?
> As for bills and other expenses, which bills will be paid from which bank account? Who will pay for what when you go out? How will paying for gifts for others be divided, if at all? How will large purchases, such as furniture or a vacation, be paid?
> If one of you is moving into a home that the other has purchased, will the mortgage be divided? Will the partner moving in pay rent? Will their name be added to the title?
Preparing for the Move
1) When preparing to combine your home with your partner’s, a great place to start is with purging. Each of you can go through everything you have, big and small, and declutter as much as possible. If you’re not using something, now is the time for it to go. And remember, when it comes to clothing, you’ll be sharing your drawers and closets now. You may not have the space to store as much as you’re used to having. Prepare to swap out clothes seasonally to make more room or keep decluttering.
2) See what’s left and, if it’s still too much to merge, see how much more you can declutter to get your inventories down to what you absolutely love and can’t imagine getting rid of. Make a short list of must-haves or sentimental items that are non-negotiable.
3) Once you’ve each purged your respective homes, it’s time to compare and discuss.
> Discuss what design styles you each like. If there isn’t one you agree upon, brainstorm ways you could blend your styles for a space that you’d both enjoy. How can you use items that belong to both of you in most spaces (You may want to have an office, craft room, man cave, etc. as a space that just you or you partner can have just the way you or they want it.)? Is there a way to take an item that belongs to one of you and alter it to better fit the taste of the other? For example, you could reupholster or paint a piece of furniture.
> Share your sentimental non-negotiables and work together to find ways to accommodate each other in your new home (Note: I will often refer to your home as your new home. Though this home may already belong to one of you, I use new to indicate your new home together). Like many things during the process of combining households, this will almost certainly require some negotiation and compromise. This might even include rotating smaller decor items that are on display every few months so you can enjoy more of the items you both treasure. Remember, you’re not going to have a home just like the one you’re used to; you’re creating a home that will reflect both of you.
> You’ll likely have quite a few duplicates from couches to toasters. Together, decide which of each set of duplicates is in best condition and most suits the style and space of your new home together. You’ll need to measure furniture and the space it needs to fit into. When you’re feeling stuck on big items, let the space make the decision for you. Make sure, however, that both of you are reflected in the mix of items that will be in your new home. Keep one of the duplicates and purge or store the rest (Sometimes, especially in the beginning, it can be worth renting a storage unit to store items that didn’t make the cut for your new home together, but that one of you still can’t bear to part with).
> Finally, it’s time to donate your remaining items, trash them, or hold a joint yard sale with your partner to sell as much of what you need to get rid of as possible (You can put the money you make towards something you’ll both love for your new home!). The less you have to merge, the less complicated the process will be.
Special Considerations: Kids and Pets
Merging households can be particularly stressful for kids and pets. There are things you can do to facilitate a smoother adjustment.
- For children: It may help children to be a part of the process. Let them help pick out and pack their favorite toys or make some decor decisions for their new rooms.
If children will be living with other children for the first time, make sure that they have had adequate time to meet and spend time together. Depending on their ages and the children involved, you might consider assisting them in finding common interests if necessary.
- For pets: When there are pets involved, something to consider might include deciding where the pet will sleep. In the bed with both of you? In their own bed on the floor close by? Outside of your bedroom altogether?
If both you and your partner are coming into the new home with one or more pets, introduce them to each other slowly. Provide treats prior to the meeting and try to make sure they are relaxed and happy. Upon first introducing them to each other, it would be safest to have each pet on a leash or in a cage or carrier while they take some time to get used to each other’s presence and scent. Provide additional treats and slowly allow them to come into closer contact with each other while you assess whether there are aggressive behaviors being displayed. If not, decide whether you believe it is safe to allow your pets to be free of their leashes or confined areas. If a pet is not ready to leave their carrier or cage, that’s okay. Let them exit when they are ready. (Note: I am not a pet expert. Suggestions are based on my research only. For further information about introducing your pets, please ask their vet or other pet specialist).
Moving in together can be exciting. Merging two households can be tough. With enough communication and compromise, you can create a new home together that you can both love.
I know you can do it!
P.S. I hope this post has been of some value to you. I’d love to hear your comments or questions. Please feel free to share your stressors and successes here!